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Die Bergkatze (1921)

7.1
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A charismatic lieutenant newly assigned to a remote fort is captured by a group of mountain bandits, thus setting in motion a madcap farce that is Lubitsch at his most unrestrained.

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Title: Die Bergkatze (1921)

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Victor Janson ...
Kommandant der Festung Tossenstein
Paul Heidemann ...
Wilhelm Diegelmann ...
Hermann Thimig ...
Edith Meller ...
Lilli
Marga Köhler ...
Frau des Kommandanten
Paul Graetz ...
Zofano
Max Gronert ...
Masilio
Erwin Kopp ...
Tripo
Paul Biensfeldt ...
Dafko
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Storyline

A charismatic lieutenant newly assigned to a remote fort is captured by a group of mountain bandits, thus setting in motion a madcap farce that is Lubitsch at his most unrestrained.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

masochist | action heroine

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

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Details

Country:

Release Date:

5 August 1921 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

The Wildcat  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Featured in The Story of Film: An Odyssey: Episode #1.3 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lubitsch's Most Extravagant Farce
8 May 2010 | by See all my reviews

"The Wildcat" is an amusing romantic comedy made by Ernst Lubitsch, although more farcical than his later American work, but which was common of his German comedies. It wouldn't be long before the director emigrated to the US, and his increased stature in the business by this time is evidenced by the expensiveness of the sets and the more polished filmmaking in this film compared to his earlier comedies. The castle fortress set and its art deco décor look very nice, as does the outdoor scenery of the Bavarian mountains. The long staircase featured during an impromptu chase scene is especially impressive. One criticism of the film, however, could be that the settings sometimes dwarf the actions of the characters and narrative. Additionally, as Kristen Thompson ("Herr Lubitsch Goes to Hollywood") could point out, the standard, flat V-pattern lighting of German film-making back then doesn't do well to distinguish, or spotlight, the characters from the settings. Reportedly, this was one of Lubitsch's least successful films, which probably encouraged him to discontinue this brand of comedy that he had heretofore found so fruitful.

There are very many masked framings of shots (circular, rectangular, ovals, irises, masks shaping the image inside of what look like fangs and snowballs, etc.). Another reviewer suggested Lubitsch was poking fun at D.W. Griffith and his cinematographer Billy Bitzer, who, indeed, employed iris shots and various masking effects frequently, but, otherwise, I don't see much function for their use in "The Wildcat". The masks for point-of-view looks through keyholes and binoculars, of course, have an obvious function, and the rest, I suppose, works to establish the spectator's point-of-view, but, overall, the framings here seem too distracting and gimmicky.

Nevertheless, the picture features plenty of pleasant nonsense amusement, with some funny moments scattered about, even if the humor is often broad. Scenes such as the crowd of women gushing over the departing Casanova-like Lieutenant, including goodbyes from his many children, or the stream of tears gag are especially comical. What little there is of a story and plot take a back seat. And, I think Pola Negri is more appealing here as an uninhibited mountain bandit than she is in some of her more melodramatic roles.


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